Rights group Amnesty International has warned the home ministry against any attempt to round up migrant workers during the pandemic, saying the suggestion by its minister Hamzah Zainudin is against the universal practice of reducing the number of inmates in detention centres.
The group’s Malaysian chapter also reminded authorities of the series of Covid-19 outbreaks in detention centres across the country due to cramped settings.
“This is why governments around the world, from Indonesia to the US, have moved to reduce populations in detention centres even as Malaysia appears to be going out of its way to increase it instead,” said Amnesty International Malaysia director Katrina Jorene Maliamauv.
Yesterday, Hamzah defended the plan to launch a massive crackdown on undocumented migrants, saying it was needed to ensure they could be vaccinated.
But Amnesty said the statement was disturbing.
“Threats, fear and punishment are utterly incompatible with good, just, public health measures.”
It urged the authorities to halt the raids and immediately release detained migrants.
“Detention is never the solution to resolving immigration issues, not least during a health emergency,” it added.
Amnesty said migrants and refugees should be provided evidence-based information so they can make an informed choice about vaccines.
“The government must stop creating barriers to access, and instead must make vaccines available and accessible for everyone without discrimination, including people without documentation.”